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About 125 second-graders from Evanston schools took their first swimming lessons Wednesday in a project designed to fulfill one of the 10 big ideas from the Evanston 150 project.

Dubbed “Evanston Swims!” , the activity advances one of the goals to give every Evanston child the opportunity to learn to swim.

Evanston 150 was a community-wide effort initiated last year to help celebrate the 150th anniversary, in 2013, of the founding of Evanston.

One of the idea groupings was called “Water, Water Everywhere” and included the learn-to-swim initiative. The committee working on that project, headed by Pamela James, enlisted the support of the District 65 school system and the McGaw YMCA and the Evanston YWCA, both of which have swimming pools as well as lifeguards and instructors.

Kids with volunteer instructors at the McGaw Y.

As it turns out, on the first Wednesday of each month, the schools close early to allow the teachers time to engage in school-improvement activities, which provided the time for the swimming program to take place.

In this pilot project, District 65 provided transportation for second-graders at three elementary schools—Washington, Dawes, and Oakton– to head to the swimming pools at the Y’s, where Y staffers, aided by community volunteers, provided the instruction.

The safety demonstration completed, these kids head for the pool.

Before they entered the pool, the kids were instructed in basic safety procedures involved in pool activities.

Then they headed for the locker rooms, where they changed into their swimsuits before being escorted to the pools.

This same procedure is expected to be followed during each monthly early-dismissal day.

Pam James and Supt. Murphy view the activities at the YWCA.

On hand for the initial outing were committee chair James along with District 65 Superintendent Hardy Murphy, who told reporters he was enthusiastic about the future of the program and pledged to continue to provide support from the school district.

To provide long-term funding for the program, a fund has been established within the Evanston Community Foundation for receiving contributions from individuals and corporations interested in helping to keep the program going.

Checks should bear the notation “Evanston Swims” and should be made payable to the Evanston Community Foundation and mailed to the ECF offices at 1007 Church St., Ste. 108, Evanston, IL 60201.

Charles Bartling

A resident of Evanston since 1975, Chuck Bartling holds a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and has extensive experience as a reporter and editor for daily newspapers, radio...

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1 Comment

  1. Bravo!

    Kudos to Evanston 150, both  Y's, and D65 for helping Evanston's kids learn this important life safety skill.   Assuming this continues for 2nd graders each year, has there been any thought to bringing older kids up to speed?

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